I took a year out of work in 1994 to backpack around the world.
It’s a long time ago now, and I didn’t actually circumference the globe, but I travelled through Africa, Asia and Australasia. I had the time of my life and met so many interesting people. In Africa, I met a witch-doctor who told me he could vomit bees. He invited me into the jungle so he could show me, but I was too scared and declined the offer! I still have some of the ‘magic’ carpets I bought in India, and the didgeridoo I bought in Australia.
I regret never having worked abroad.
There isn’t much I regret about my life, but I wish I taken the opportunity to work in another country. It’s an experience that I hear from others that always makes me envious. I did work for a dressage rider near Eindhoven in Holland for about a month in the 1980s – but the time wasn’t right – I was a teenager, alone and homesickness prevailed, sending my running back home.
I have only been married for twelve years.
I am fifty now and I didn’t meet my husband until my late thirties. I did have a long term relationship before, but marriage didn’t suit us. My husband has been married more than thirty years – but to three different women!
I have a passion for animals.
If I am watching a film or something on TV where an animal is hurt, I will be much more traumatised than if a person is pained. I first knew about this when I watched The Incredible Journey aged five. I sobbed and gulped all the way through, and don’t get me started on Lassie! I have two horses and two dogs. I love donkeys and would like to rescue a pair in the next couple of years, once we’ve got some land sorted out! Trouble is, the animals distract me terribly from my writing – they seem to come before most things, including my husband! Only metaphorically speaking of course! So when I write, I have to be really dedicated and strict with my time-management.
I have played polo.
I went to school with a girl whose father was a polo player and teacher. They organised for a group of us to take lessons. I loved it and went on to play at the Pony Club Polo Championships, where I scored the winning goal for our team! My polo pony was a rangy Palomino from Argentina called Rocky and the win was more down to his skill than my own.
I have been star-struck
I met my teenage pop idol, Paul Young, in 2007 on a motorbike rally. We were introduced and I found myself speechless after shaking his hand. I was so embarrassed, I turned a nasty shade of pink. He was so nice about it though and put his arm around me for our photo. Afterwards, I could have kicked myself and thought of all the things I could have said that would have led to a fantastic conversation and a lifelong friendship. Dammit!
I own a classic car
It’s a Clipper Blue MGTC and was made for export to America in 1946. I often take her on the road, mostly during the summer and attend rallies and organised drives. She belonged to my father, who lived in New York, and when he died we shipped her back to the UK. I wrote a light-hearted poem about her imaginary journey through life, which you can find on my blog. http://www.justinejohn.co.uk/2016/02/an-ode-to-my-fathers-mg-tc/
I hate shopping
All shopping. Clothes. Food. Holidays. Online or high street. The only shopping I like is for my dogs or horses. I love the smell of a saddlery shop and the endless new colours of rugs and numnahs. And I’ll browse doggie-treat shelves for extended minutes if I can! But anything for myself – nah! I end up with clothes with holes in, and stuff that is so out of fashion I should get a starring role in the next Back To the Future film. When I find a shop I do like, however, I will overspend massively – and I allow myself to do this because I am compensating for all the times I could have shopped but didn’t.
I love a good old fashioned pub
I really enjoy going to eat, but when the feeling takes hold, I will usually choose a good pub over a posh restaurant. Especially if it’s after a long, refreshing walk in the countryside with friends and dogs, and we all pile through the door to the unmistakable aroma of a Sunday roast. Lolling on a soft couch in front of the fire with a good friend and bottle of red wine is winter’s treat, or sitting in a summer pub garden, watching the sun go down with a chilled carafe of rose. Bring it on!
I developed vertigo in my late thirties.
After doing bungy jumping, bridge swinging, abseiling and ski-parachuting in my twenties, you’d think that vertigo was a far from my reality as a snowball surviving a fire. Sadly I only found out during my honeymoon when we a crossing a very flimsy, seriously wobbly and extremely long jungle canopy bridge in Borneo. It swept over me like a wave. My vision blurred, I began to sweat buckets and had the undeniable need to make myself as small as possible. I got down on my knees and curled myself into a ball before I fainted. My husband had to coax me up, and only with his help (he had to walk backwards, bless him, while we absolutely maintained eye contact) and two rangers, one in front and one behind, could I continue the journey. I will never do that again!